Thomas Jefferson Papers

Notes on Alexander Hamilton, 19 November 1792

Notes on Alexander Hamilton

Nov. 19. 92. Beckley brings me the pamphlet written by Hamilton before the war in answer to Common Sense. It is entitled ‘Plain Truth.’ Melancton Smith sends it to Beckley and in his letter says it was not printed in N. York by Loudon1 because prevented by a Mob, and was printed in Philada., and that he has these facts from Loudon.

MS (DLC); entirely in TJ’s hand; written on the same sheet as the “Anas” entry for [18–19] Nov. 1792, the recto of which contains two “Anas” entries for 11 Nov. 1792. Recorded in SJPL. Included in the “Anas.”

Although the pamphlet has been traditionally ascribed to several different authors, there can be no doubt that Plain Truth; Addressed to the Inhabitants of America, Containing, Remarks on a Late Pamphlet, entitled Common Sense (Philadelphia, 1776), was the work of James Chalmers, a Maryland loyalist who settled in England after the Revolutionary War. Chalmers asserted that he was the author in a 1796 pamphlet directed at another work by Thomas Paine, and there has been no convincing evidence to refute his claim. The pamphlet that the New York printer Samuel Loudon was prevented from publishing was The Deceiver Unmasked; or, Loyalty and Interest United: In Answer to a Pamphlet Entitled Common Sense (New York, 1776), another loyalist critique. Almost every copy printed by Loudon was destroyed by a committee of New York City mechanics on 19 Mch. 1776, six days after the publication of Chalmers’s work in Philadelphia. With the passage of time Loudon confused the two publications, neither of which was written by Hamilton (Thomas R. Adams, “The Authorship and Printing of Plain Truth by ‘Candidus,’” Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, xlix [1955], 230–48).

1Preceding two words interlined.

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